This guide is designed to support iSchool students in INFO 281, Information Secrecy, taught by Susan Maret. The secrecy course covers the classification/declassification system, FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), public (open) records, and presidential libraries. This guide is also a brief finding aid to these subjects.
Executive Order 13526 created a “uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information.”
There are three ways classified information is declassified:
The Freedom of Information Act (5 USC §552 et seq, or FOIA, is a federal law that provides access to agency records. All federal agencies are required to make records available unless they are protected by exemptions outlined in the statute. Many countries also have freedom of information laws. States (such as California) have provisions for open records or public records requests.
Section 552(a)(2) of FOIA mandates that each federal agency make four categories of records available by electronic means (final opinions and orders"; specific agency policy statements; administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public; and records disclosed in response to a FOIA request”). Federal agencies fulfill these requirements by providing documents in “reading rooms” on their websites.